Saturday, November 20, 2010

Just A Coincidence...

I'm finding that the only time I have to post nowadays are Saturday mornings, when the house is half asleep, and I have my morning coffee at my side. My husband Rich is sitting on the couch watching his recorded T.V. programs, and I'm tapping away on the computer. Quiet uninterpreted time. Before I hear: "Mommy!" I better continue while I can.

Earlier this week my cousin, Carlos--the college professor, historian and writer, posted the above picture on his wall on Facebook. Carlos is the little boy in the picture. He is standing between my mother who is looking to the right, and his mom, Fatima. The woman on my mother's left, holding on to her arm, is Fernanda, a family friend, and the woman on the other side of Fatima, is my dear aunt, Aida. I had never seen this picture before, so I printed it out and showed it to my mom, the first chance I could get.

The story behind this picture is interesting to me. According to my mom, this picture was taken at Fatima's house before my mother was married to my dad--she is about 18 here, and the man behind the camera is my father. I find this very interesting because my dad had just met my mom for the first time when she was 15, so this was taken during his second military stop on the island three years later while wooing my mother with love letters. I guess my mom finally wrote him back before this picture was taken. My dad would write letters to my mom in English, and her cousin, Fatima's husband, would translate them to her. After many unanswered letters, I guess my mom finally responded! Fernanda started visiting my mom more often after my mom starting "dating" my father because her father was a cousin of my dad's, and would accompany him sometimes with her dad for visits. I guess she was like a sort of chaperone? In the 1950's that was the norm. The year must have been early in the year, 1953? It would explain the winter clothes, and why my mother is wearing her "blue gabardine" coat. My mom went on to explain that during that time, she was fulfilling her mother's "promesa" and was wearing her white dress underneath.

My grandmother's promesa: When my mother was 8 years old, she became extremely ill. I'm not sure what type of sickness she was ailing from, I just know that it was a fever that eventually sent her to the hospital. As a result of the fever, my mom lost all her hair. My grandmother was understandably upset, she had lost two babies previously before my mom was born, and her own husband had died when my mom wasn't even a year old. My mom had actually stopped breathing at one time in her home, and the doctor who was visiting at the house pronounced her dead. This sent my grandmother running out of the house into her garden crying for a miracle to the Virgin Mary to save her daughter. Believe what you may, but the doctor met her outside, and told her that my mom was breathing again, and that is when she was sent to the hospital. The doctor who was tending my mom called it nothing less than a miracle. As a result, my grandmother then made a "promesa" : a promise to the Virgin that my mom would wear a white dress and blue ribbon (what the Virgin Mary wore when she appeared in Fatima, Portugal). My mother would have to wear this attire for approximately one year in Mary's honor.

Well, years when on, and my mother never full filled her mother's promesa, so finally at 18, my mother decided to wear the white dress and blue ribbon for a year. She didn't want to fulfill her promesa when she was a married woman. Her God-Mother also made a promesa to Santa Teresa, which involved wearing a brown dress for a year (an idea that my mom did not like at all), but the village priest gave her permission to only fulfill one promesa. My father must have seen her wearing her white dress and blue ribbon, but had forgotten about it until many, many years later, when my father was in the hospital, and was, in the hospital nun's own words: "At the gates of heaven." He came back from being out of consciousness, to tell my mom that he had seen her wearing that white dress and blue ribbon in his dreams. My mom was astonished. My dad had been so forgetful lately, he could hardly remember where he last put his shoes, to remember something that happened 40 years previous, was incredible. It did give my mother peace of mind that things were going to be alright, which prompted her to make her own promesa, but that is another story.


Will post again soon---I need to make breakfast now!

6 comments:

Lisa said...

Julie, i love how you write. What a glorious story. You tell them so well. I love the traditions and i think it is lovely and romantic how your mom wore the dress and your dad remembered. LOVE the photo at the top. XO

FrankandMary said...

I'd probably be lousy with a promesa, considering my love of black...but this was a lovely story from your mom's past. And the picture is a treasure. ~Mary

Shermeen said...

Oh I think it would be just wonderful to write the story of your parents. I just love hearing about the past because it just a totally different time and way of life. Having a chaperone and wearing a white dress for a year. And as I said on FB, I do love looking at b&w pictures from years gone by. I wonder if in many years time, your grandchildren will look at pictures of you and wonder what you were like...mind you, they can just read your blog! Technology, love it...but it does ruin the mystery sometimes xx

Jimmy's Journal said...

An interesting post! I enjoy stories from the past and this one really fits the bill!

Jimmy

Lori said...

This was a beautiful story, ans is the picture!

Missie said...

Beautiful story!

Happy Thanksgiving!